Blockchain, chatbots & AI : we aren’t (quite) there yet

Claude Malaison – 29 March 2018

The idea for this blog came to me last weekend when I was doing my daily browsing on social networks dedicated to marketing. But also while looking back at the content of my recent post on B2B trends in conferences, especially B2B Marketing Ignite 2018 and Content Marketing World 2018. Also, by reading the new eBook about AI by Chad Pollitt entitled Everything you need to know about Marketing Analytics & Artificial Intelligence.

If we’re to believe all these sources, the three buzzwords Blockchain, chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing marketing. They are also involved in the digital transformation of companies across the planet. That’s something…

Chad added, prophetically:

Now is the future because an all-encompassing AI-driven analytics solution exists that can unify the customer view, make big data actionable, parse structured and unstructured data, predict outcomes, prescribe actions, provide full marketing attribution, and open up 80% more of the web to marketer’s eyes.

For over a decade, marketers have been beholden to just a few analytics vendors that also sell online advertising. They really have no incentive to help marketers spend less and still get better results. Data independence is the only way to avoid this inherent conflict of interest.

Promising technologies (for the few adopters)

Sounds like beautiful optimism. But it seems to me that a lot was said about content marketing and the influence of Web 2.0 tools ten years ago. Yet many companies to date do not even use a CRM, let alone SCRM. And how many have inbound marketing strategies or use B2B social networks effectively?

With regards to digital transformation, we are glaringly late. This delay is noted in a very serious study entitled Embracing Digital Technology [PDF], conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review in collaboration with the Cap Gemini company. They surveyed the hearts and minds of 1559 leaders from the largest companies in 106 countries across the globe, 37% in the USA and 5% in Canada. Their conclusion?

Take the executives, for instance (the green slice on the pie chart). They are leaders. They are those who are supposed to lead, to take decisions, to innovate, to ensure the competitiveness of their company or that of their shareholders. Only 15% of executives say they are comfortable and in control of their digital strategy.

Some authors in the industry refer to them as Digirati or Digerati :

These companies have executives that share a strong vision for what new technologies bring, invest in and manage digital technologies quickly and effectively and gain the most value from digital transformation.

As for the rest…

In fact, the vast majority of leaders are lagging. This is corroborated by other figures recently published by eMarketer::

Authors say:

One factor holding back adoption rates for new technologies is that many marketers aren’t ready for them. In a November 2017 poll of 500 marketing executives worldwide by Conductor, a combined 57% of respondents said they felt most unprepared for voice search or AI.And while some of these emerging technologies hold a lot of potential, they still face an uphill battle in fixing some of the problems in the marketing technology industry.

Marketers and business stakeholders are simply not ready. Either to just hear about it or to decide to adopt it. Imagine; they are being asked to embrace a new era of digital evolution that some industry people call 4.0, while they have not even fully integrated the previous techs. It’s like asking them to jump into emptiness, blindfolded…

That’s what Christopher Ross, an analyst at Gartner, also noticed::

There’s been a landgrab mentality around martech,” Gartner researcher Christopher Ross told Forbes. But what we’re finding is companies are still underutilizing the technology they already have at an epidemic level. They’re starting to say, ‘before rushing out to buy new technologies, no matter how promising or enticing they may be, we need to hit the pause button to make sure we fully realize the value of what we currently have.

We aren’t (quite) there yet

There’s a reason why Gartner, in his latest “Hype Cycle” of emerging technologies, places the blockchain and AI in the “Peak of inflated expectations”. The “Balloon” blown to the max…

Still, these technologies have enormous potential in many areas, such as marketing. Reading Chad’s eBook is captivating as he reviews all aspects of marketing that will be profoundly transformed by artificial intelligence, as is the case of chatbots in customer service or as it will be for the blockchain. But we’ll talk about it in another blog because still have time ahead of us, a lot of time. Five to ten years, according to Gartner, in opposition to Forrester.

Here is a quote from the eBook:

Forrester also discovered that 46% of companies said that their marketing and sales teams are leading the investment in AI technology – the highest of any department. It’s safe to say that the AI genie has been let out of the bottle and marketers need to be ready to embrace it.

An ambiguous claim, in my opinion. Is it correct then to say that in 46% of companies, it’s the marketing departments that are responsible for the investments in AI? If so, this does not mean that they’re walking the talk and that the genie has come out of the bottle. But it is unavoidable; he’ll come out eventually. What will be your three wishes?

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